Players: Paden as Watcher, Warforged Artificer. Gizmo as Dariel, Tiefling Seeker. Mark as Ragnar, Human Barbarian. Matt as Tucke Wilde, Bullywug Rogue.
Solenius: the jewel of the eastern sea. It’s the great city of men, a monument to unwavering determination and enlightenment. Its Royal University is renowned the world over as the foremost center of learning, its monolithic architecture and pearlescent spiraling towers are a breathtaking sight which never fails to draw a gasp from even the most jaded and experienced adventurer. The city itself is home to the largest airdock in the world. Hundreds of airships of all sorts move to and fro in the skies of Solenius every day. The royal palace of Solenius sits squarely in the center of the Royal University. The King of Solenius, Randalph the Benevolent has sat on the throne for 40 years and is well beloved by all who call his shining city home. His palace is a beautiful work of art that doesn’t sit high above the rest of the city, for Randalph wants his people to know he is one of them. He shares their plights and calls their city his home. He has worked his hardest since coming to the throne 40 years ago to foster peace in his kingdom and to rebuild the city after the devastation of the war between Solenius and the brutal kingdom of Falenar.
He must have over looked the section of town you now find yourself in…
Your Party sits in the bar area of The Bonedry Flask Inn: a worn and weathered tavern and inn sitting in what proudly claims to be the last remaining slum in Solenius. The five of you sit at the bar nursing the one drink a piece that the lot of you can afford. You’re a remarkable sight, the five of you. You sit lined up at the bar one after another in your respective armor and garb. You’re out of money, your airship The (Go vote on Twitter for the name of the Party’s Ariship!) is impounded at the airdock, you know this is the last night you will be able to afford at the Flask, and no lucrative bounties have been posted in many weeks.
To Dariel: You look up from the pale green ale in the obviously unwashed cup and notice the clock on the wall: noon. You look back down at the ale and shrug. ‘Maybe its happy hour in Falenar’ you muse with a smile and swig the last bit of ale and place your mug back on the table. Down the row from you sits your friend Kilroy, he has a lean frame hidden by an oversized coat. On his hips are two empty holsters and an empty scabbard (Murphy the barman doesn’t let you carry weapons at the bar anymore thanks to a little philosophical argument singularly started and ended by Watcher). His hair is usually a tangled mess of brown and grey, but today it’s pulled back into a ponytail. His features are sharp and his jaw is covered in a beard born from a supreme neglect for his appearance, after all: he is a monster-hunting, treasure-seeking, bounty-cashing adventurer just like you. Who does he need to impress? Kilroy has been a friend and confidant to each of you for a long while, you may not trust other humans but he is different. He is older, but he carries his years well. He has been everywhere and seen everything at least once. His years spent as an Inquisitor have made him good with a gun, better with a sword (though he is loathe using that skill to take a life), and made his name one that is half whispered by the undead as though speaking it aloud could somehow conjure him to appear. But to look at him you might never suspect this. To many he is simply Kilroy, and he is content to cause trouble for the right people and enjoy his coffee. He merely seeks to abide.
Kilroy: “What’s this then?” * Kilroy takes his cup of weak coffee from his lips and gestures outside. Beyond the cracked window of the Flask you see a crowd gathering outside.
The party decides that there is no profit to be found sitting around drinking, and leaves the bar after collecting their weapons. Kilroy places his hat on his head and follows you out the door.
You see a decent sized crowd of people gathering around a large airsled baring the royal seal that’s parked in the middle of a four way intersection. Security officers block the roads. A man in a clean pressed coat and white cloves steps out of the vehicle and holds a small brass colored orb in front of his mouth. He releases it and it hovers in place. When he speaks the ball vibrates slightly, while greatly amplifying his voice.
Royal Crier: “Attention noble people of Solenius. His Royal Highness, King Randalph at the best of Prince Valin will be holding a contest tomorrow at dawn in the courtyard of the Royal University. All able-bodied adventuring parties are encouraged to compete for the honor of becoming the King’s private adventuring company along with all the glory and riches such an honor provides.”
Dariel* raises his hand to ask a question and is promptly ignored.
With some time upon their hands, the party decides to take in a show. Jim Darkmagic is playing at a local theatre in the arts district. They decide to sneak in. Watcher is a huge Darkmagic fan and purchases an official Jim Darkmagic “Magically Yours” button.
The following morning: the Royal University is an amazing sight to behold. It sprawls in every direction, large white buildings connected by a series of clear walkways. The King’s palace itself sits in the very center university, solidifying Solenius’ dedication to education and enlightenment. The university itself has stood for thousands of years and is constantly taking in students from all over the world. Nobles and royalty from every kingdom on the plane come to the Royal University to study.
Just beyond the University gates is a large open courtyard, normally a common area, today crowded with hundreds of rough looking characters ready to compete for the King’s honor and promised riches. You wouldn’t be too awful surprised if this was the first time in a school for most of the people in attendance today.
Wide marble steps lead up to the university’s towering front doors. At the top of the steps is a white podium. The two large white doors, ornate with carvings of the gods, moan open and out step two of the King’s Royal Magus clad in white and blue colored robes. They stand on either side of the podium and raise their arms, humming to themselves. After a few moments, King Randalph and his two children come forth. Their appearance is met with thunderous applause and a roar from the crowd. Kilroy shrugs and begins to clap. A full complement of Royal Guard follows them out, including the King’s personal body guard haggard looking fellow with a long scar over his left eye he has long hair the color of sand struck through with gray, he’s armored and wears a brown and blue cloak the hilt of a sword peaks over his right shoulder) and the captain of the guard stern looking man with close cropped gray hair and a muscled frame, he also wears a brown and blue cloak on his right hip is a pistol and on his back is a large sword). King Randalph waves to the crowd and smiles amicably. He is an aged man who carries the weight of his position well. He is dressed in white and blue and bears the standard of Solenius. To his left is his daughter Jysella, a beautiful young woman with her father’s dark hair. To his right is his son Valin, Prince of Solenius. He is young and handsome with long blond hair tied back. Above the magus’ outstretched arms flickers a twenty-foot tall image of the King as he takes the podium. The king takes a small brass ball from his belt and it hovers in front of his mouth, amplifying his voice. His towering visages, generated by the magus, mimic his every word and movement.
King Randalph: “Mighty warriors of Solenius! I salute you! (he pounds a fist on his chest, and the crowd roars) Today you will be competing among yourselves for a great honor. An honor none before have bore save one: my own personal Body guard, Rayne (he motions to the scarred man with long hair). You will compete for the honor of becoming the personal Guardsmen of the Royal House of Solenius! (the crowd erupts, the king chuckles his towering visages do the same) Don’t be too excited, warriors. (he says with a sly grin) As it will be no easy task to gain such honor and glory. The lot of you will face many challenges: some of martial skill, some of mental acuity, and some of determination and survival. They that rise to meet all these challenges will be judged by myself, my bodyguard Rayne, and the captain of the guard Arden (he motions to the large gray haired man) and perhaps deemed worthy. So steel thyself, warriors of Solenius, the first challenge begins at nightfall at the Royal Arena!”
Dariel again raises his hand to ask a question, but cannot be seen amid the crowd.
With that, the towering images of the king flicker and vanish and the magus retreat back into the university doors. The crowd erupts and the King and the Prince and Princess wave to the crowd.
Dusk falls over the arena, a building built much like the rest in Solenius: beautifully. It’s a large open structure with the floor covered in white sand. Large pillars jut out of the ground at random. The stands are full of Solenians and a special box sits in the crowd where the Royal family can watch the events unfold. At various places in the crowd a mage stands humming to himself, preparing to project the impending excitement in large scale for the crowd. You sit in a poorly lit room with the other adventurers. A mage comes around and speaks to every party present. One approaches your party; he wears the same crisp white and blue robes you saw earlier today they seem ill-fitting as he is supremely thin. From below his hood you make out that he is a half-elf with sharp, bird-like features. He regards you coldly with a judging look on his face, as though you were mares at auction rather than men of action. He is rail-thin and carries a carved wooden staff. Beside him hovers a piece of parchment and a 5 inch bar of light that periodically scribbles on the parchment whenever the mage speaks.
Cedric: “Warriors of Solenius, hail. I am Professor Cedric. I will be acting as your team’s liaison, should you need anything it is my privilege to fetch it for you or otherwise make it happen. For the sake of our records, my I please have your names?”
The party members answer in turn, except Watcher who is ignored.
Cedric: “And your party’s name?”
Sensing Cedric’s obvious racism toward Warforges, the party names themselves the Warforges.
Cedric: “Very well. Sign here. (he gestures to the hovering bar of light) Oh, your Warforged need not sign.”
The party angrily informs Cedric that Watcher is free, and their friend, and capable of making decisions for himself.
Cedric: “Apologies, please sign… sir. The guard will be around to claim your weapons.”
Cedric touches each of you and out from his fingertips strands of blue leak into your garments and armor after a few seconds your clothes are all blue. You look around and notice mages assigned to each party doing the same but with other colors, obviously designating different teams.
Guards begin to pour into the room, lead by Arden. He walks about the room with his large hands clasped behind his back. Guards begin to strip lethal weapons from the various parties. Arden approaches you.
Arden: “Ah! A Falenarian Warforged! I’ve not seen your sort since the war when I was a young man. (he laughs lightly as though remembering something funny) I look forward to seeing you in combat. And you as well, Mountain Man. You are indeed far removed from your home. I hope our educated city ways are not too frightening for you. (he laughs) Well met, well met. Cedric (he claps the balefully thin mage on the shoulder with one meaty hand) see to it these warriors are well cared for. As you can see, my men will be claiming your lethal weapons as we do not want any of the weaker competitors killed… for some reason. You will be given stainswords and your Warforged will be given stain rounds for his pistols. I shall be watching the fight from the King’s Box; I will be watching your party with great interest…”
(Perception Check, succeeded by Dariel) In the corner you notice a member of one of the other parties, a large half-orc whose leather skins have been dyed orange. You see him speaking with someone wearing Solenian armor and a blue and brown cloak, his hood is raised and you cannot make out his face from here. You see him point to your party’s general area and the half-orc looks straight at you. He looks to the hooded man and they clasp forearms. From here you see the half-orc mouth the words “Well met”.
You are all given stainswords, gray gladius-style swords made of a thick non-metal material, as well as 1 net a piece. When you touch the stainswords you notice the color blue bleeds through and stains the weapons the color of your team. You step into the arena and you notice the mages projecting large images of you walking into the arena with your party’s name in bold letters over the image. The crowd cheers as you enter.
An illuminated blue circle appears on the ground in a specific area and you notice an orange team and a green team all standing inside circles of their respective colors. In the orange circle you notice a tall half-orc looming over the rest of his party. His black eyes are fixed on you.
Prince Valin’s image stands towering over the King’s Box.
Prince Valin: “Warriors of Solenius, today you face the first challenge: a challenge of your martial skill. You face each other in combat and the winners will advance to the next challenge. Warriors, do battle! (his image raises his arms and the crowd roars, the circles surrounding the different parties vanish.)”
14 Gladiator minions, 1 half-orc fighter.
You notice as you strike true with your weapon, that as it connects with your opponent it leaves a trail of blue where you have struck. The blue then bleeds all throughout your gladiatorial foe’s tunic, washing all of his team’s color away and leaving only blue. To the side, a mage points to the fallen gladiator and he is declared out.
Alone amid the arena’s sand and cracked pillars stands one last challenger: the enormous Half-Orc you noticed earlier. He drops his weapons standing unarmed, his arms out to his side and his palms flat. He purposefully strides up to Tucke (grapple check, failed by Tucke)
To Tucke: He grabs you around the wrist of your sword hand with one massive palm. He then taps himself on the shoulder with your sword. Blue bleeds from your sword into the color of his tunic, washing away the orange and replacing it with blue.
Off to the side, a white robed mage points to him and declares him out. The crowd erupts and massive projected images of your team appear, with the words “WINNERS!” above them.
Prince Valin: “Amazing! Simply breathtaking! The noble savage acknowledges his betters! I give you your winners of round one of the first Challenge!”
Valin and Jasylla step out of the King’s Box accompanied by Rayne, his hand resting on his pistol as they approach. In her hand, Jasylla carries a single blue rose.
Valin vigorously shakes hands with each of you, the brass colored orb hovering infront of his mouth shimmers slightly as he talks.
Valin: “Solenius! Your first round of champions! (the crowd erupts again, Valin glances dismissively at Rayne) Be wary, Rayne, these men may be your replacements. (the crowd chuckles, and Rayne forces a smile)
Rayne: “We shall see, sire.”
Jasylla steps forward and hands you a blue rose, the state flower grown only in Solenius.
Valin: “But there is more to come, my noble constituents! Next for your amazement… (his voice trails off as you are rushed from the arena by two young mages and into the darkly lit room you initially came from).”
As you walk back into the room you see the gladiators having their weapons handed back to them. They are then lead from the room looking quite dejected. Cedric rushes up to meet you, his white robe trailing behind his frail frame.
Cedric: “Excellently done, sirs. You obviously exceeded my expectations. Now, if you will please follow me I will show you to your lodgings.”
He leads you to a large dormitory obviously used for students at the University, though it has been cleared out for the events. They are Spartan quarters, with little frill. Beside each bed is a pitcher of water and a hook to hang coats/weapons on. Cedric hands you a small milky-colored orb.
Cedric: “As ever, noble warriors I am at your disposal. Should you require anything, simply hold the summon-orb to your lips and say ‘Cedric’. I bid you a good evening. Tomorrow’ contest begins at dusk.”
The Part decides to celebrate, Dariel and Ragnar order several kegs of ale and proceed to pester Cedric by frequently calling him using the summon orb.
Tucke is fascinated by the bidet in the bathroom.
Kilroy hangs his coat and gunbelt on the hook and sits down on the bed. You over hear him grumbling as he pulls off one boot and pours out a small pile of white sand from the arena onto the polished wood floor of the dormitory.
The next morning, the party attends breakfast for the competitors. There they meet Crazy-Eyes Margo, a Dwarven brawler, who offers a little insight into the competition and speculates that the King’s bodyguard Rayne may have been a former Paladin before the ban on Holy professions. The party then decides to attend one of Cedric’s lessons, thoroughly disrupting the class. Dariel raises his hand to ask a question, but is promptly ignored. Watcher goes on about Warforge rights and Kilroy spins yarns about the best way to fight vampires. Cedric leaves class, Dariel goes after him.
Dariel corners Cedric and demands to know if he speaks Abyssal, which he does. Dariel asks him to translate a note that his parents left him with when he was abandoned at the Orphanage. Cedric is unable to do so.
To Dariel: As you walk back to your room you manage to get turned around and walk past a large empty room. You peer inside and see Rayne. He is wearing no armor, merely loose-fitting black pants. His uncovered upper body is a roadmap of tangled scars and you see now that the scar over his left eye actually travels down his throat and chest, stopping above his ribs. He stands holding his sword in front of him, his eyes closed. He barks an abrupt noise and begins a flowing sword kata that ends with him in the same position he began in. If he notices you are there, he does not belay it in anyway.
Dariel applauds Rayne’s skill. Rayne tells him to leave but Dariel persists, asking Rayne about his past as a Paladin. Rayne tells him to be wary of whom he trusts.
Just before dinner, Cedric comes and claims you from your dormitory. You are taken to the Airdock where the prince’s royal airship The Morning Star is docked. You and the remaining parties board the massive and beautiful ship. You’re shepherded into the cargo bay where you are met by Arden. He waves to you from across the bay and strides over to you. Jovially Arden extends a hand to you and shakes it excitedly.
Arden: “Well met! I’m very pleased by your show yesterday. You displayed much valor and grace in combat. I hope you do just as well in today’s challenge, men of such valor of yours are rare indeed. To call you brother-in-arms would be quite a blessing.” (he again claps Cedric on the back so hard that he nearly falls over)
Cedric rolls his eyes.
Cedric: “Inconsiderate brute. How the managed to hold that Bugbear still long enough to shave him and put in him Royal Armor I will never know.”
You are instructed to sit in seats along the edge of the cargo bay. Arden and the guards stand at attention as Princess Jysella enters the bay flanked by the royal bodyguard Rayne. She is thin with long dark hair kept up behind her head. She has delicate features and a burst of freckles across the bridge of her nose. She wears a long blue and white dress and glasses perched on her nose that make her look thoughtful. The chatter in the bay halts and she stands before you.
Jysella: “Well met, brave warriors of Solenius. We hover now over the tomb of Lord Nollyan of the Highland Realms, surely you’ve heard of him. He was a leader so great that his royal guard swore to serve him even beyond death great door. So great and mighty was he that never once was he ever defeated in combat, so legend goes. So knowledgeable was he that was rumored to have created a weapon so powerful that with it he could rule the entire world. Such tales are, of course, absurd but such is his legend. Your mission will be to brave his tomb and retrieve his personal journal kept somewhere amid his possessions. Be cautious, brave warriors, as many traps were laid to prevent men from robbing him of his treasures. Only the keenest minds will puzzle out these traps, only steel will shall bring you back to us.” (She takes her leave of you, flanked by Rayne who does not take his eyes from your group.)
Arden raises his hand.
Arden: “Warriors! Take nothing save the journal of Nollyan. Any theft will be met with the gravest consequences. The tomb is built in the shape of a four-sided pyramid; each team will enter from a different side. The first team to obtain the journal will be declared the winner. We may not descend any lower, as the magiks in these traps and devices wreak havoc upon the systems integral to airship construction. As such, you will be dropped. You have all been given one orb of featherfall, one orb of illumination and one orb of escape each. Do not drop them. It has a limited time effect, so you must not use it until you are close enough to the ground. (he chuckles lightly and steps back) When you have obtained the book or can no longer compete, break the orb of escaped and you will be transported back to the Royal University grounds. Good luck.“
With no warning whatsoever, the floor below you swings open. For a split second before you fall you see the distinct outline of a pyramid far below you before it disappears behind clouds. You fall for what seems like forever as wind rushes past you and panic and awareness that come from it surges through your body.
(Knowledge arcana/Knowledge military to know when to use orb of featherfall, Check succeeded by Watcher)
To Watcher: You break the orb against your chest and you feel a slimy fluid leak out onto your body. Then, as if grabbed by some invisible hand on the spot where the orb was broken, your descent is halted. You are lowered gently to the ground and as soon as your boots hit the grassy plain you feel released.
Before you stands the tomb of Nollyan of the Highlands. It is a huge pyramidal structure that stretches high into the clouds. Before you stands the entrance flanked on either side by statues of what you would assume are statues of Nollyan himself: one holding a book and looking very scholarly, the other holding a sword aloft wearing armor.
As you approach the tomb entrance, you notice it has been blown open from the outside. It would appear this tomb was purposely opened by someone seeking entrance, maybe specifically for this event.
Kilroy inspects the ruins of the door.
Kilroy: “The spirits resting here will not be pleased with this.”
Room 1 You enter the tomb via a long and winding stone corridor supported by pillars. You notice between each pillar there is a portrait of Nollyan, each one different, and each one he is surrounded by different women.
You come to a large stone door. To the side is a rusted metal leaver.
The leaver creaks as you pull it; the door opens slightly but only slightly enough for each of you to crawl though one at a time.
Tucke, having the highest level of dexterity, goes through first.
To Tucke: You enter the room and you see it is a small round stone room, there is a hole in the ceiling where sunlight leaks through. To one side of the room is a large painting in a gilded frame. It is of a beautiful woman, Nollyan is not in the picture.
You inspect the picture. It appears to be a beautiful Elven woman. She has long blonde hair and a pink dress.
The woman in the painting opens her eyes and turns to face you.
Kiera: “Be warned, grave robbers, you have no business here. Turn, flee, and be spared the fate of so many before you.”
The party assures her that they are not grave robbers, and ask who she is.
Kiera: “I was Kiera Fleetfist, I was Nollyan’s great love. As Nollyan grew in power and sway he found little he could not possess with either money or force. He sought me as he did countless other women. He sought me all his days, yet I never yielded. My sister Agnetha, though did love Nollyan. So much so that she became jealous of me. She was a mighty sorceress and used her magic to bind my spirit to this painting where I have ever been all these long years.”
Dariel wants to set her free from the painting, but Kiera has no programmed response for this. Kilroy states that he has seen this sort of thing before in bigger cities. This is a security measure. The party must swear an oath before she will allow them passage.
The party then swears an oath to not steal anything from Nollyan’s tomb.
Kiera: “Be wary, Adventurers. There are many perils and many treasures too, though none worth your life. But be warned: Agnetha has forever bound herself to Nollyan. She will forever haunt theses stone halls.”
The painting slides up, revealing a stone door which pushes open.
You enter the room and are faced with turning left as your only option. There is a long hallway made out of a smooth stone.
(Perception Check, succeeded by Watcher) To Watcher: You come to a corner and a right turn. In the corner, on the smooth stone, you notice black scorch marks.
You make the right turn and look down the hallway, its dark and you can’t see the far end.
(Dungeoneering Check, Succeeded by Tucke) About half way down the hallway, you notice one panel of floor is slightly lower than the rest.
Party makes Dex checks to see about not stepping on the panel. Kilroy fails, triggering the trap.
You hear a “click”, the most feared and hated sound an adventurer can hear, because in your guts you know that a trap has been sprung. You hear a faint humming and see a burgeoning ball of light at the far end of the tunnel.
(Reflex save, Succeeded by everyone) You deftly dodge out of the way as a white and blue bolt of lightning bursts from the far end of the hallway. Your hair stands at attention as it sizzles narrowly past you.
The party comes to a rod sticking out of the wall, ornately carved to look like a dragon. Wires and tubes coil around it.
(Knowlege Arcana Check by Watcher) Watcher decides to deactivate and keep the lightning gun, his experience with modifying Warforges allows him to modify the gun to be mounted on his shoulder for use in combat.
You see a stone door that is partially opened.
You force the door open and you enter a large round stone room, the ceiling of which stretches up ward about 100 feet. The center of the room contains a statue of Nollyan, his eyes closed and his hand outstretched with his palm up. In his hand is a large red ruby. When the last of you enter the room the stone door shuts behind you and lays flush against the wall. Directly across from you, on the other side of the round room is a large metal door.
After some debate, the party decides to take the ruby. Having the highest Dex, Tucke volunteers.
To Tucke: You touch the ruby and the statue of Nollyan’s mouth opens as though to speak but only a grinding noise comes out.
(Reflex Check, failed by Tucke) To Tucke: You turn away to see if you have inadvertently sprung any traps. Nothing appears to have happened. As you turn back to the statue you are hit squarely in the face by a warm blob of clear gel. It sizzles as it touches you. You begin to panic as the gel begins to grow to cover your whole body. You hear a monotone, recorded voice seemingly coming from the statue say “Lucky you.”
To the party: You watch in horror as Tucke writhes on the ground covered in this expanding, sizzling gel. After a few moments the gel seems to melt away and Tucke has a vastly different appearance.
He looks exactly like Nollyan of the Highland.
You again hear the sound that makes your blood turn to ice water.
The opposing stone door creaks and begins to slide open.
From out of the darkened room steps a massive green form of a troll. It roars angrily and sizes you up one by one.
To Tucke: The trolls eyes fall on you and grow wide with shock. He groans and lunges for you.
(Combat) Troll, Pg. 254 Monster Manual.
The Troll makes a grapple against Tucke and succeeds,* Tucke* is then swept up into a warm embrace. The rest of the party stands in awe as the Troll, at Tucke’s behest, hugs each member of the party in turn.
Dariel *theorizes ways the troll could come home with them. *Tucke and Kilroy say it isn’t possible as they only have a limited number of Orbs of escape.
Tucke pats the troll on the head and they move into the darkness clouding the next room.
*End of Session 1 *